Chris Stapleton was the surprise of the 2015 CMA Awards. He was nominated three times: Album of the Year (“Traveller”), Male Vocalist of the Year and New Artist of the Year. We had predicted he would win the New Artist prize, but we didn’t see it coming that he’d take all three. This year he’s tied with Eric Church and Maren Morris as the most nominated artist with five bids. We don’t expect him to sweep again, but according to our official racetrack odds he’ll at least go back-to-back in the Male Vocalist contest.
Stapleton gets leading 1/2 odds of winning again. This year he also contends for Single of the Year (“Nobody to Blame”), Musical Event of the Year (“You Are My Sunshine” with his wife Morgane Stapleton), Music Video of the Year (“Fire Away”) and the top prize of the night, Entertainer of the Year. That kind of broad support is a good sign for the acclaimed singer-songwriter.
His closest challenger is veteran Keith Urban with 4/1 odds. This is his 12th nomination in this category following 11 consecutive bids from 2004 to 2014. He won the first three of those, but he hasn’t prevailed since. However, he has almost as much broad-based support as Stapleton does with four total nominations including Album (“Ripcord”) and Entertainer of the Year, so this could be a toss-up.
The aforementioned Eric Church is next with 9/1 odds. Despite being tied with Stapleton at five nominations he was snubbed for Entertainer of the Year — he received his first and only bid in that top contest last year — and he’s still waiting for his first Male Vocalist victory after five straight nominations.
Dierks Bentley is an underdog with 16/1 odds. This is his fifth nomination in this category, but he has yet to win it. However, the Country Music Association did nominate him four times this year, including Album of the Year for “Black,” so perhaps he can defy the odds.
Rounding out the category with 25/1 odds is Tim McGraw. He has two wins in this category (1999-2000) out of five previous nominations, but this is actually his first bid in 13 years. He’s loved by the Country Music Association, though, with 11 overall victories spanning 20 years, so perhaps his absence from this category has made their hearts grow fonder.
Weigh in now with your CMA predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how she’s faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before winners are announced on November 2 at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over this fall’s music awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.